By Associated Press • 

State crime lab scientist sentenced to 3 years in prison

BEND — A federal judge sentenced a fired forensic scientist at the Oregon State Police crime labs Monday to three years in prison for stealing hundreds of pills from evidence submitted to the lab over two years, causing the state to re-evaluate over 2,500 drug cases statewide.

Nika Larsen, 36, was sentenced after pleading guilty in August to two counts of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud and deception, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Her sentence also includes 250 hours of community service as part of supervised release following her prison time.

Larsen used her position to steal methamphetamine, morphine and other drugs while processing and overseeing cases, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel wrote to the court that Larsen violated her position of trust “on a massive scale unprecedented in Oregon history.”

An investigation found Larsen took the pills in Umatilla County between December 2013 and November 2014 and in Deschutes County between November 2014 and September 2015. She began working for the state in 2007.

Oregon State Police launched an investigation in 2015 after a forensic scientist in the Bend lab found 18 oxycodone pills were missing. Investigators found some pills were missing, partially missing or had been replaced with non-controlled substances — all in cases handled by Larsen.

Larsen told the judge Monday she wanted to express her deep “regret and shame.”

“What started as a perceived easy and painless means of escaping my past and agonizing daily life turned into egregious acts that deeply impacted my friends, family and colleagues in the law enforcement and the legal community,” she wrote in a Dec. 6 letter to the judge that she read in court.

Larsen suffered from substance abuse during the year before her arrest, according to her plea agreement.

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Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com

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